Beginning in 1997, the two biggest wrestling promotions, WCW and WWE, were in the midst of a competition for superiority. Thus, the “Monday Night Wars” was born. The biggest names in WWE such as Hulk Hogan, Diesel (aka Kevin Nash), Razor Ramon (aka Scott Hall), “Ravishing” Rick Rude, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, etc. were jumping ship and headed for WCW. Ultimately, WWE came out the victor when Vince McMahon bought out his competition in WCW. Here are 5 reasons why WCW couldn’t defeat WWE in the Monday Night Wars:
- Eric Bischoff
In 1997, Eric Bischoff had become the President of World Championship Wrestling, after six years of working with the company and climbing the ranks along the way. In 1996, Bischoff made a huge splash when he signed on Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, “The Outsiders”, who later aligned with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan to form the “New World Order (aka nWo)”. This is what helped push WCW out in front at the start of the ratings war with WWE. The nWo was originally made out to be rivals with WCW and then began to “take them over”. Although the nWo was a key factor in the 84-week run of beating WWE’s Monday Night Raw in ratings, Bischoff’s continuation of favoring the nWo over other talent led to a drop in ratings. By late 1999, WCW was losing around five million dollars a month. Attendance, pay-per-view purchases and weekly television ratings were down significantly. On September 10, 1999, the decision was made to relieve Eric Bischoff of his management duties.
- Free-Roaming Talent
When Eric Bischoff was in-charge, he loved his main event stars like any wrestling promoter/executive would. But, his problem was how loose the reins were on these performers. His favoritism for his top performers hurt the company as he granted some talent, specifically Hulk Hogan, an override clause for any creative/booking disagreements. Despite the override clause, Bischoff’s awful leadership led to top talent becoming less cooperative when trying to make new stars out of the younger talent, which is vital in the pro wrestling industry. The free-roaming and implementation of arrogance into the main event talent is a key reason why WCW couldn’t keep up with the ever-changing WWE.
- WWE’s “Attitude Era”
When the Monday Night Wars began drawing more attention to the wrestling world, WWE decided to enter the “Attitude Era”. As the WWE entered this new era, a new breed of superstars emerged in the forms of The Rock, Mick Foley, Triple H, The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin and many more. From the invasion of WCW courtesy of D-Generation X or Stone Cold’s infamous Beer Bath, WCW just could not keep up with the shenanigans going on in WWE at the time. From the moment the WWE had turned their owner, Vince McMahon, into a character for weekly television, they did not look back. McMahon feuded with all of the pivotal stars of the late 90’s. People loved the feud between Stone Cold and Mr. McMahon because Stone was living every Americans dream of torturing and abusing his boss every week on national television. McMahon did everything in his power to stop Austin’s rise to stardom and Austin did everything he could to break McMahon emotionally, physically and spiritually. Overall, the “Attitude Era” was just too noteworthy of television for WCW to compete with.
- January 4, 1999
On January 4, 1999, WCW was doing their live broadcast in the Georgia Dome while WWE’s taped Raw from December 29th was set to air. The episode of Raw, Mick Foley won his first WWE Championship from The Rock with an assist from Stone Cold. On WCW’s live show, Monday Nitro, commentator Tony Schiavone, spoiled the ending when he announced Foley would win the title and saying, “Fans, if you’re even thinking about changing the channel to our competition, do not. We understand that Mick Foley, who wrestled here at one time as Cactus Jack, is gonna win their World title. Ha! That’s gonna put some butts in the seats, heh.” This is said to be the turning point and beginning of the end for WCW as immediately after WCW spoiled the ending of Raw, over 600,000 people turned of Nitro for Raw and the WWE never looked back.
- David Arquette Wins the WCW World Heavyweight Championship
After filming the movie Ready to Rumble (released in April of 2000), the star of the production, David Arquette was introduced into real life WCW storylines. On April 24, Arquette defeated Eric Bischoff in a singles match on Nitro with the help of his new allies, Chris Kanyon and then reigning WCW World Champion, DDP (Diamond Dallas Page). On the following episode of Thunder (WCW’s second weekly show) Arquette teamed with DDP to take on Eric Bischoff and Jeff Jarrett. The stipulation of the tag team match was that the competitor who got the pin would take the championship. The bout saw Arquette pin Bischoff once again to win the match and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in the process. Arquette was used in a more comedic role in his following appearances as champion which was later seen as devaluing to the title. Arquette’s championship run is said to be the final nail in the coffin for WCW in the Monday Night Wars.
The Monday Night Wars and WWE’s “Attitude Era” is regarded today as one of the best eras in professional wrestling history. It is responsible for containing so many great memories of past (and some current) wrestling personalities today. In 2019, with the polarizing formation of AEW (All Elite Wrestling), WWE may find themselves in the midsts of another ratings war. But, if they can channel their inner-Attitude Era creativity in a now TV-PG scene, then they should have no problem with AEW.